The Canadian Produce Marketing Association and the Canadian Horticultural Council have a joint call to action for their members: strengthen the voice of the produce industry by engaging with Members of Parliament. To that end, June 24-28 has been designated Advocacy Week.
Advocacy Week is an initiative arising from the annual Fall Harvest Event held in Ottawa each year. Co-hosted by CPMA and CHC, the fall meeting brings representatives from across the supply chain to develop key messages that are then communicated in meetings with federal government officials. Jane Proctor, vice president of policy and issue management for CPMA, said, “We want to impress on them the scope of the industry, the breadth of it across the country, the commitment to the economy as a whole.”
In contrast, Advocacy Week is designed to be a more grassroots way to keep key messages front and center with government decision makers. According to Ms. Proctor, direct engagement with Members of Parliament by industry members “personalizes the industry so there is a relationship there.” Rather than focusing on the produce sector as a whole, Advocacy Week is all about making individual connections.
“CHC and its members recognize the importance of advocacy and ensuring activity at the local level is crucial in enhancing the effectiveness of national efforts,” said Anne Fowlie, executive vice president of CHC.
Ms. Proctor hopes industry members will seize the opportunity to invite their local MPs to tour their operations or come to an event that works best for a particular company. The idea is to personally communicate the importance of produce to Canadians’ health and to the health of the economy.
To offer industry support and keep messages consistent, CPMA and CHC will provide materials that include speaking points based on key messages from the Fall Harvest Event.
The Fall Harvest brochure lists this year’s messages: develop comparable approaches to financial risk-mitigation tools to protect fruit and vegetable suppliers doing business in Canada from buyers that default on their payment obligations; ensure there is confidence among consumers in the safety of food and Canada’s food-safety system and continued sustainability of the Canadian agriculture sector; and promote access to and the consumption of fruits and vegetables for the health and wellness of Canadians.
CPMA and CHC developed the key messages together. Ms. Proctor said the two associations identify the key concerns that the produce industry needs the federal government’s help in advancing. Although the current messages are aimed at the federal level, the plan is eventually to involve the provincial and municipal levels as well.